Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls combine the pillowy softness of cinnamon rolls with the warm flavors of carrot cake, and the result is the most perfect springtime pastry.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls |

Guys, I did something.  I was nervous about how it would turn out, but sometimes in the kitchen, as in life, you just have to take risks.

Luckily for us, the risk paid off big time.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls |

Yes.  I combined two of my very favorite baked goods – cinnamon rolls and carrot cake – into one.  The marriage of these two is seriously a match made in heaven.

Carrot cake is like a big hug, if food could be a hug.  The flavors are warm and comforting from the spices, but it’s also spring-like (and healthy-ish) because carrots, and smooth and creamy with the tangy cream cheese frosting.  

I’ve loved carrot cake since I was very young, when we used to go to a bakery on a farm near my house on Sundays and get big slices with those bright orange and green icing carrots on top.

I have a recipe for a single layer carrot cake already, but this past weekend I could not contain my mad scientist idea to combine the spiced flavors of carrot cake with the warm, gooey, comfort-anytime meal better known as cinnamon rolls.  You can’t be unhappy when you have cinnamon rolls, it’s just a fact.  So really, this recipe is like a giant bear hug to you.  And it’s perfect to share that bear hug with those you love for Easter brunch!

I adapted this recipe from my version of the classic: Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing.  It’s the easiest cinnamon roll recipe I’ve ever made, in that it doesn’t require kneading, and the dough is made in a Dutch oven!  No mixer necessary, just a wooden spoon and a rolling pin.  That’s the kind of baking I like.

Oh yes, look at those gluten strings there on the right.  That’s how we know we’re getting somewhere.

Making Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

People think since cinnamon rolls are so delicious and yeasty, they must be difficult to make.  Not so.  We just heat milk, oil and sugar in our pot, add the yeast (when the mixture is cool enough not to kill it), and then we add our carrot, spices, and flour.  Let that sit on the stove for an hour or so, until it’s doubled in size.  Then add some more flour, some baking powder and soda and salt, and roll that baby out.

I do half the dough at a time to make it easier – also, because I live in an apartment and my counter is very small.

I added cozy carrot cake spices to the dough AND the filling for these carrot cake cinnamon rolls, for extra spiced oomph.  We mix it together with brown sugar for warm sweetness.  This is going to be good.

Spread some melted butter on the dough, then add the sugar mixture on top.  Starting with the long edge furthest from you (the top of the dough in this picture), roll the dough towards you, moving your hands evenly back and forth along it, until you have a coiled dough.  

Cut it into 8 even slices (I used my bench scraper for this, but a very sharp knife will work too), then load it in a round cake pan.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls |

Look at all that carrot in there!  This is totally healthy…

These rolls get another little rest on the stove before you put them in the oven, so they can expand to their full glory.  When they come out of the oven, the smell is aromatic and heavenly.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls |

While you’re waiting for them to come out, whisk together some cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla, and milk for our glaze.  So simple.  So good.  This is how every Easter brunch should be.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls |

Gooey, soft, sweet, spiced and warm.  Serve with some hot coffee and a lazy Sunday.  I topped my rolls with some toasted coconut for extra carrot cake flavor – totally up to you.  If you’re a purist with your carrot cake, I totally understand.  For example, I don’t know why anyone adds pineapple to carrot cake, but that’s a gripe for another day.

This recipe goes down as one of my favorites I’ve ever created.  I hope you love it too!  Happy Easter!

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls |
Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls |
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4.15 from 7 votes

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

These Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls combine the pillowy softness of cinnamon rolls with the warm spiced flavors of carrot cake, and the result is the most perfect spring pastry.
Prep Time2 hours
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 16 rolls
Author: Katiebird Bakes


For the Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls:

  • 2 cups milk (I used whole milk, but full fat coconut milk works too)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or another neutral oil)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots (from about 3 medium carrots – I use my food processor to grate them)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided (see below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

For the Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (or more if necessary)


For the Cinnamon Rolls:

  • Combine the milk, oil, and sugar in a large pot (I used a
    ) and place over medium heat until just before boiling. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool until just warm to the touch, about 105-110 degrees F. This is called scalding the milk and we do this to denature the whey proteins and allow for better gluten development. Can you skip it and just use warm milk? Yes, but your dough may be stickier and you'll have to chill it before rolling.
  • Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the milk mixture and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Add the vanilla, grated carrot, spices, and 4 cups of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until an evenly combined dough has formed.
  • Cover and let sit on the stove (with the oven on if your kitchen is cold) to rise for about 1 hour. Check after 30 minutes to make sure it is rising. By the end of the hour, it should have doubled in size and smell yeasty.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir until completely combined. It should be a well-formed, stiff, non-sticky dough. If your dough seems too sticky to roll out, see the recipe notes below.
  • Divide the dough in half and roll one half out on a floured surface to about a 12×8 inch rectangle. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and spices.
  • Spread half the melted butter evenly over the dough (you may not need it all), then sprinkle half the brown sugar mixture over top.
  • Starting with the long edge farthest from you, roll the dough towards you, moving your fingers evenly back and forth along the dough, until it is tightly coiled with seam down. Cut into 8 even rolls with a sharp knife or unflavored dental floss, and place in a greased pie plate or 9-inch round cake pan.
  • Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the second half of the dough.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. While it is preheating, let the rolls rest on top of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until slightly risen. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown. Make the cream cheese icing while the rolls are baking.

For the Cream Cheese Icing:

  • Whisk together cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until completely combined and smooth. Add vanilla and salt and whisk again. Whisk in powdered sugar until fully blended. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture reaches a pourable, but still thick, consistency.
  • Pour and spread the icing evenly over the warm cinnamon rolls in the pan, making sure the tops of the rolls are completely covered. Serve warm with coffee and watch people’s eyes light up with unadulterated joy!


Store any leftovers (not likely) in the fridge for up to 5 days, and simply microwave for 20-30 seconds to reheat.
IF YOUR DOUGH IS STICKY: put it in the fridge for at least an hour, up to overnight before rolling it out.  Make sure the surface you roll it on is WELL floured, and sprinkle some flour on top of the dough before rolling.  Add flour to your rolling pin if it starts sticking to the dough.
Make ahead overnight instructions: these carrot cake cinnamon rolls can be prepared the night before through step 6 (shaping the rolls and placing in the pans).  Cover pans with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, set pans out on the counter while the oven is preheating to allow rolls to come to room temperature, then bake as directed.
Freeze the baked rolls: baked and iced rolls can be frozen, wrapped individually in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer bag, for up to 3 months.  Simply microwave for 30 seconds or warm in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes to reheat. 
Freeze the dough: Shaped cinnamon roll dough can be frozen, well-wrapped in the pan or another container, for up to 3 months.  Set out on counter for 2 hours before baking to allow to come to room temperature and complete their second rise.  Bake as directed.
If you like, top with some toasted coconut – you can do this by toasting shredded unsweetened coconut on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes, until browned.
Recipe adapted from my Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing.

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Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls |

I won’t admit how many of these Brian and I ate all by ourselves, because it’s too embarrassing.

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  1. 5 stars
    Made these for Easter Brunch and they were absolutely amazing. I left mine in the fridge overnight and they were just perfect. Thank you so much!

  2. 3 stars
    Hey there,
    I made these rolls today hoping for the perfect new recipe. I’ve made a few of your other recipes and they always turn out perfect.
    The dough was really lovely and rolled out great, but I ended up with a “wet“ dough after I baked it and the outside was golden brown. Almost like it was under done, but it was baking for 24 min. Just wondering if you knew where I couldn’t have gone wrong.

    1. Too much milk perhaps…. I usually use one cup of milk for any cinnamon roll recipe I make. I am going to try this recipe soon perhaps without the oil (I’ll use butter instead) and the 1 cup of milk instead of 2…

  3. I’m a new baker.. can you make this and leave them in the baking pan, covered, in the fridge overnight? Or will that ruin them? I was planning on baking them in the morning?

  4. 1 star
    So disappointed. Wanted to make a special breakfast for Christmas morning. Thought these would be perfect to make the night before and then pop in the oven Christmas morning.

    But something about this ratio is horribly wrong. Our “dough” was mush and we ended up with wet cinnamon plops when trying to roll and cut this.

    I don’t think we’re cut out to make cinammon rolls. I don’t think this recipe should be called cinammon rolls. Carrot cake goop maybe.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear this didn’t work for you – I have never had that issue in many tests of this recipe. Are you sure you measured all of the ingredients correctly and didn’t miss anything? I hope you find another recipe you enjoy as homemade cinnamon rolls are truly a joy.

  5. 5 stars
    These are next level unbelievably good.

    The dough is VERY sticky because of the carrots, so I used a whole cup instead of a half cup of flour after that first rise to make it a little easier to handle.

    Other than that, it’s perfection.

  6. Buen dia, son correctas las cantidades de leche o Harina, hice la receta como aparece y la mezcla quedo muy hidratada no tenia consistencia de masa y no pude usarla

  7. 5 stars
    I made these and they were so soft and delicious. Mine did rise in the oven I was hoping my two year old would like them but I think she was interested in getting back to coloring but my husband ate them all up. I am going to try it on my daughter when she does not have a cold either.

  8. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness, these were sooo good! We could not stop eating them. Mine did not double either when rising so I was worried they would not turn out right but they were perfect!

  9. Hi Katie,

    I cannot wait to try these!! Do you think the dough would freeze well, being yeasted? I’m not sure what stage I would freeze but I’m thinking it would have to be after that final rise and therefore I’d really need to freeze them in the cake tin? :-/ Thanks!

    1. Hi Sophie – you actually have a few options when it comes to freezing. These rolls are very forgiving! I’ve frozen them after baking and frosting them, individually wrapped in plastic – all you have to do is remove the plastic and pop it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds for an amazing cinnamon roll anytime! You could also freeze the whole pan of them, baked but unfrosted, and then just warm them in the oven before frosting for an easy weekend brunch! Finally, you could freeze them before the second rise, in the cake pan – double wrap the pan in foil/plastic wrap, then allow them to thaw and rise in the pan before baking as normal and then frosting them. Choose your own adventure!

  10. 5 stars
    OK, so I just made this. Followed the recipe …. except my second roll, I added raisins. I don’t know what I did with the yeast, I put one packet. It did in the raise – and there was no way I was throwing it out and starting over. So when I added the baking powder I added another pack of yeast. Mixed it up ….. and put them in the pan ….. then it rise. Anyways, so soft and fluffy …. tasty. I love it!!!

    1. Yay!! I’m so glad you loved them! Yeast is a little finicky and your first packet was probably not active (for whatever reason). I’m glad you didn’t let it deter you!

  11. I only want to know how many you ate because I feel like I’d probably eat more. These look awesome! Fusion at its best, two wonderful things made even better together!

    1. Let’s just say, the recipe makes 16 rolls, we didn’t share with anyone else, and they were gone within 4 days. “We” being me, and my husband. I recommend having friends around if you try these!!